You can usually identify a serious duck hunter by checking the back window on his pick-up. You’ll see a replica of a brace of mallards with wings cupped, gliding in. Same thing is true for deer hunters. A set of massive antlers is likely to adorn his window.
Ruston’s 80 year old Tommy Smith displays his area of interest in a slightly different way. I don’t recall seeing anything on the back window of his vehicle but if you look at the covering of his trailer hitch, you’ll see a golden emblem of the brass of a shotgun shell. Smith has made his name as an expert marksman when it comes to blasting clay targets in trapshooting competition.
He passed his love for the sport along to his son, Trey, who developed into a fine trap shooter himself. However, the best of all may be Thomas Smith IV, Trey’s son and Tommy’s grandson. Just returning from national competition in Illinois with a group of youth from the area, young shooters who ended up with several awards, the 19 year old Smith was the big winner when he the championship of Junior Gold in the national event.
What did Smith do to collect the gold? All he did was break 199 out of 200 targets to best some of the nation’s top young shooters. We visited with the teenager, now a student at LA Tech, to get his take on his impressive feat and to learn how he got started.
“I got involved when I was 12 or 13 years old when my grandfather, who had already made his mark as an expert trapshooter, started working with me. I shot off and on as a youngster but I didn’t have the time I needed to really get good at it until after I graduated from high school,” Smith said.
After graduating, Smith decided to start working on his skills as a shooter again and it has paid off big for him.
“The week before I went to Illinois for the national competition, I went out to the range where we practice, the Arcadia Gun Club, and for the first time ever, I broke 100 straight clay targets. That gave me confidence that maybe I could compete with those on the national level,” he said.
Amie Skipper is head of the local organization and accompanied the group of shooters to Illinois for competition.
“For youth up to age 22, the organization is called AIM, which stands for Academic, Integrity and Marksmanship. After that age, they transition to the Amateur Trapshooting Association (ATA). There are about 60 kids in AIM in Louisiana with a good group from here in Lincoln Parish. I got involved by working with the local 4-H shooting program,” Skipper said.
Here’s what the ATA has to say about what is involved in Trapshooting …
”Trapshooting is a game of movement, action and split-second timing. It requires the accuracy and skill to repeatedly aim, fire and break the 4 ¼ inch disc which are hurled through the air at the speed of 42 mph, simulating the flight path of a bird fleeing a hunter.”
For someone to connect with the target 199 times out of 200 is quite an achievement and we tip our hat to a youngster from our area, national champion Thomas Smith IV, who did just that. I’m betting his dad and granddad are both mighty proud.
CANEY LAKE – Bass fishing has been fair with best catches made fishing the deeper drops with drop-shot rigs, tail spinners or spoons. Crappie fishing has been best fishing jigs or shiners around the deeper tops. Bream fishing is fair on worms and crickets around bedding areas. Catfishing is fair fishing a variety of baits around the piers and boat docks. For information contact Hooks Marina at 249-2347, Terzia Tackle at 278-4498 or the Honey Hole Tackle Shop
LAKE D’ARBONNE – Bass fishing has been fair with some schooling fish hitting topwaters and Rat-L-Traps. Bigger fish are in the deep channels with some caught on jigs, crank baits and soft plastics. Crappie are in the channel with some caught on shiners and jigs fished 15-22 feet deep in 25-30 foot water. Best jigs have been Critter Glitter, Key Lime Pie, Green Tomato and Halo. Bream fishing is fair around the beds on worms and crickets while channel cats are biting
cold worms off the banks. For latest reports, call Anderson’s Sport Center at 368-9669 or Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE CLAIBORNE – Bream fishing continues to be fair to good on worms and crickets. Crappie have been best fishing 12-14 feet deep around submerged tops on shiners or jigs. Bass are fair around the boat docks and piers fishing with a Shaky Head. Some catfish are being caught on trotlines and stump hooks baited with a variety of baits. No report on stripers this week. For latest information, call Misty at Kel’s Cove at 331-2730 or Terzia Tackle at 278-4498.
BUSSEY BRAKE – Bass have been fair on spinner baits, Wobbleheads and soft plastics. The crappie are scattered while the bream are fair. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
BLACK BAYOU – Bream are fair; crappie are scattered and slow to fair. Bass are best around the edge of the grass and trees on soft plastics and jigs. Contact Honey Hole Tackle Shop 323-8707 for latest information.
OUACHITA RIVER – Bass have been fair at the mouth of the run-outs where there is a bit of current with crank baits and spinners taking a few. Crappie are around the tops in the river and in the river lakes. Jigs and shiners are taking a few. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE POVERTY POINT – Catfishing has been fair with mostly smaller fish being caught. Bass, crappie and bream are slow. For latest reports, call Poverty Point Marina at 318/878-0101.
LAKE ST. JOHN – Crappie are quite slow. Bream are scattered and fair. Bass are best early mornings on topwaters. Catfishing is fair to good. For information, call Ken Mahoney at 318-201-3821.
To report an issue or typo with this article – CLICK HERE